In the city of Ahmedabad, Western India, there are several migrant communities scattered across the city; many of these once considered to be untouchables under the Hindu ritual ranking. Traditionally, women from this community practised the craft of katab (appliqué), often making domestic household decorations such as quilts, torans (door hangings) and bed covers, from recycling waste fabrics from local tailors and garment manufacturers.
To make a regular income for their families, these women have been drawn into commercial work for clients including Fab-India, local design students, clothing boutiques and independent designers. However, the orders usually come via an agent who takes a large part of the profit and the women are allowed little, if any, creative voice within the production process. Led by textile artists/researchers LOkesh Ghai and Emma Sumner, to date, the project has worked with a small group of women to establish a sustainable model on which they can make their own designs for market, removing the need for agents and allowing them to earn an income which reflects the skill and dedication they have for their craft.
Created by women participating in the Katab: Not Only Money project, the quilts on display have been inspired by iconic films (both Hollywood and Bollywood) and Hindi TV series. For many of the women, this exhibition is the first opportunity they have had to put their own name on the work they have made.
Exhibition open at the Manchester Craft and Design Centre: 14 September — 12 November 2017